Wanda McGlown Hall
Wendy Turner Lewis
The Renaissance (MI) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, promotes arts education among young people of color to pique their interest, increase their knowledge and encourage their participation in the classical arts. We develop education and community partnerships to optimize program impact, leverage chapter resources and recognize, reward and develop avenues to support excellence in artistic education.
We are pleased to partner with The Sphinx Organization, a national non-profit founded in 1996 by Aaron Dworkin to identify exemplary student artists and create opportunities to hone their talents, utilize peer mentoring to cultivate appreciation of classical art, provide workshops with hands-on learning experience for student artists, develop a collaborative network of artistic and educational support and increase the number of African Americans and Latinos participating in the arts.
The Renaissance Links chapter, through its Arts Facet, initiated its partnership with the Sphinx Organization by sponsoring the Chandler Park Academy to participate in The Sphinx Organization’s Classical Connections program. Classical Connections was created to introduce elementary, middle and high school students to classical music, particularly the string instrument family. The program also introduces the students to famous minority classical composers. Because the African American community has been traditionally unengaged by and underrepresented in the field of classical music, Sphinx and The Renaissance Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, believe it is especially important to address the needs of this population, thus the perfect fit for developing a partnership. Further, in its effort to expose as many people as possible in our community to African American and Latino classical musicians, the Renaissance Chapter of the Links initiated its role as an Audience Development Ambassador on behalf of the Sphinx Organization. As an Ambassador, the Renaissance Chapter sold 450 tickets to The Sphinx Finals Competition held in February 2012. Ada Williams, a 14-year old violinist and the highest-ranking African American female in the Sphinx Junior Finals Competition became the Renaissance Chapter of the Links’ first Links Fellow. Ade’s fellowship was awarded through a $5,000 grant the Renaissance Links received from the William Pickard Foundation.
The extensive work done through the chapter’s partnership with the Sphinx Organization has resulted in the chapter’s acceptance into The Links, Incorporated’s national signature program, Classics Through the Ages, which focuses on classical arts education for talented African American youth through (1) programming, (2) peer mentoring, (3) hands-on learning and (4) community partnerships.
The Arts Facet also spearheaded the chapter’s participation in the Links, Incorporated’s National Poster Art Contest. The President of the Links, Incorporated, had requested that all 274 chapters participate in the Contest, which is focused on the theme “Happy, Healthy and Wise – Make Health a Habit.” The Renaissance Chapter held its local contest and Earhart Elementary School 5th grader, Naomi West’s entry was selected and submitted to the Central Area for regional and national consideration. For her entry, Naomi was awarded $200 and a lunch date with Arts Facet members Phyllis Golden Morey and Deborah Epperson.